- Alas, the Steelers have never played so well since.
- Since then the operative question for the Steelers has been can the team reload on talent quickly enough before the remaining Super Bowl veterans simply get too old.
- The Steelers reloading efforts have come up woefully short
But in giving up the most points in franchise history, the Steelers sent a message loud and clear to the rest of the NFL that until further notice, they have forfeited anything remotely resembling contender status.
SOS Start for the Steelers
Any number of tendencies established themselves during the Steelers 2-5 start.
- An inability to stop the run
- An inability to get pressure on the quarterback
- Slow starts in all three phases
- Failure to convert opportunities in the Red Zone
- Turning over the ball while failing to secure turnovers
- Turn over on downs
Yet the Steelers, as they have done all year, showed signs of life in the first half. First they got on the board with a Shaun Suisham field goal. Then they held the Patriots to a field goal after a 77 yard drive.
Say one thing for Jonathan Dwyer – everytime he gets the ball he runs it as if it might be his last NFL carry. Which isn’t to say it is prefect, as Dwyer’s 30 yard run could have gone farther. But the run sparked the Steelers, and on the next play Roethlisberger hooked up with Antonio Brown for his 200th career pass.
- Despite playing some awful football, the Steelers were down 17-10 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
3rd Quarter Mirage
One of the frustrating things about the 2013 Steelers is that they’ve consistently offered enough hope in each game to make Steelers Nation believe, if for a few quarters, only to come up short.
The third quarter of the Patriots game was far worse for Steelers Nation – because the Steelers mounted a come back, and looked compotent and confident in doing so, and they weren’t doing it against the Minnesota Vikings or Oakland Raiders of the league, they were doing it against the New England Patriots.
- 5 plays into the second half, Troy Polamalu jarred the ball lose and LaMarr Woodley recovered
- Another five plays later, on 3rd and 11 no less, Roethlisberger found Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone
- The Steelers defense forced a 3 and out
- Antonio Brown returned a punt 26 yards
Brady responded by going the length of the field, yet the drive stalled at the 14 as Cameron Heyward collapsed the pocket and Jason Worilds brought Brady down. The Patriots were ahead again, but had been forced to settle for a field goal.
- The Steelers offense seemed to show it could keep pace, and the defense seemed to have found the ability to stop the New England juggernaut.
- The third quarter ended with the Steelers drinking sand.
After that the Patriots made it painfully clear that Pittsburgh’s visions of finding an oasis in Foxboro were nothing more than pipe dreams.
The Tomlinator Hath No Clothes
The record will reflect that the Patriots returned the Steelers punt after failing to convert on 3rd and 10 43 yards. After that, little else really counts. Sure, the Steelers brought it with in 10 at one point. It’s one thing to threaten to come back against bottom feeders, who’ll let you stay in the game till the final tick. Try that against at true contender like the Patriots and they’ll kick out your knees with reckless abandon.
- Tom Brady fried the Steelers defense in the fourth quarter with short, long, and medium passes.
- The Patriots ran at will.
- They intercepted Roethlisberger, and sacked him around like a rag doll.
- The Steelers managed to lose yet another offensive lineman to injury.
No rational being could suggest that these Steelers are capable of a similar effort in the back eight games of the 2013 season. If the Steelers '11 victory over New England was the team's post Super Bowl XLV high water mark, there is nothing to suggest that the franchise has hit bottom with this loss.
Nonetheless, Mike Tomlin must solider forward….